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A Whole Lot of Mock Drafts: ESPN and NFL Network Collaborate on Commentator Crossover Event Ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft

In sports media, it is quite uncommon to come across two networks covering the same primetime, mega-event.

The NFL Draft, however, is unique.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah joins NFL Live in 2023

Both ESPN and NFL Network cover, produce and broadcast the NFL’s marquee offseason event – taking over

Detroit from April 25-27 across ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN social platforms, NFL Network and streamed live via NFL digital properties.

The 2024 NFL Draft will be ESPN’s 45th year broadcasting the event; it will be NFL Network’s 18th year on-site.

The rare circumstance of covering the same colossal event – for 18 years – calls for producers, executives, and commentators to be in lockstep – and to find new, out-of-the-box ways to collaborate on promotion.

It starts with, Seth Markman, ESPN Vice President and Executive Producer, who oversees all NFL and college football studio programming, and Charlie Yook, NFL Network Executive Producer.

Prior to the start of the 2019 NFL Draft, Markman and Yook would casually speak about the idea of having top voices from both ESPN and NFL Network crossover to the opposite network before the NFL Draft.

Said Markman, “At ESPN, we have so much comprehensive Draft content leading up to Draft week that by mid-April, it’s exciting to bring in different voices that our audience hasn’t necessarily heard from recently.”

Sam Ponder with Rich Eisen, Trey Wingo and Rece Davis before Night 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville

That year, Trey Wingo, Rece Davis and Rich Eisen appeared on ESPN all together to kick off coverage before the event officially began in Nashville.

“I’ve never seen Rich Eisen happier than sitting on a set, talking to his friends and counterparts,” said Yook. “The group just clicked.”

Markman recalls this exact moment as being the first “entrée” into further talent crossover collaboration with NFL Network around the Draft.

While plans were in place for another crossover event the following year, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated things.

“Once COVID hit, we had to take the idea of a crossover event to another level,” said Yook.

“The 2020 NFL Draft really showed the spirit of cooperation,” said Markman. “We produced one broadcast for ESPN, ABC and NFL Network with an all-star lineup between the three – having experience working across networks proved to be invaluable.”

This week, the now-annual crossover will feature ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Field Yates, Mina Kimes and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, Steve Smith Sr. and Kurt Warner.

Highlighting the extreme collaboration and respect between the two networks, ESPN and NFL Network will bring fans the sixth annual NFL Draft Crossover Event when ESPN senior NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. appears on NFL Network’s Total Access tonight (7 p.m. ET).

“I think with NFL Network and ESPN, the DNA is so similar,” said Yook. “We all get along. We all respect each other. We all love each other.”

Added Markman, “I have a lot of respect for how they approach Draft coverage. It makes for a seamless transition when you bring all-star, impactful talent together and put them in a new environment.”

Commentators from both networks constantly display their seamless transition abilities when appearing on, what some would say, their competition.

“Daniel Jeremiah is a natural on NFL Live,” said Yook. “His banter with the other analysts, it’s like he is a regular cast member.”

“When you turn on Total Access and you see Mel Kiper Jr., you wouldn’t even blink an eye. He, and all the other talent, fit in so perfectly.”

“We all want the NFL Draft to be the best possible event,” said Markman. “There are no egos. Is there friendly competition? Of course. But we are all committed to making sure the NFL Draft is the best possible event for all fans.”

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